ST. PETE BEACH — This weekend's annual the Beach Goes Pops event will give visitors a chance to enjoy two nights of food, drink and free concerts while watching one of Pass-a-Grille beach's famous sunsets.
The event will feature music from the Venturas and Suzette Jennings & the Moodswingz on Friday evening followed by the Beach Goes Pops Orchestra on Saturday.
The stage will be just across from the Hurricane Restaurant, at Ninth Avenue and Gulf Way. Streets will be closed to traffic so visitors can stake out a spot for their beach chairs or blankets along the beach or the roadway.
"The sun sets behind the stage and it's just a really nice place to have a concert," said Jay Anderson, a longtime volunteer who helps organize the event.
Anderson said all the music is family friendly and "stuff that you could dance to if you were so inclined."
Local artists will also be on hand displaying their wares along Pass-a-Grille Park both days.
Entering its 18th year, the Beach Goes Pops has become a community favorite.
More than 150 volunteers from the Pass-a-Grille Community and Vina Del Mar Island Association have come together to make the event happen, along with help from the beneficiaries of the event, the Gulf Beaches Museum and students from the Pinellas Marine Institute.
The city acts as a co-sponsor as well, but the bulk of the work comes from the many willing volunteers.
"That's what makes it the most fun. Some of their enthusiasm carries over to the people who come because we all have a smile on our face," Anderson said.
Food vendors from local restaurants will be on the site by 4 p.m. each day, complete with beer and wine. The music will run from 5:30 until after 10 p.m. on Friday night and the Beach Goes Pops Orchestra will take the stage at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.
Since parking spaces along Gulf Way can be scarce, there will be a shuttle from the county parking lot across from the Dolphin Village Shopping Center, at 4600 Gulf Blvd., running from 4 p.m. until 10:30 each night.
There will be no charge for admission but stage-side seating that includes a catered four-course meal while the orchestra plays is available for Saturday evening at $725 a table or $90 for an individual ticket.
The event's treasurer, Carol Ballew, said that they have served as many as 400 people in years past but the majority of the concertgoers just bring a chair and enjoy the community atmosphere.
"People are seated everywhere and walking around and seeing people they haven't seen since last year," Ballew said.
Nick Johnson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 893-8361.